Foley reassures parents schools will reopen in September 

Education minister says  the last year has shown schools are safe environments for children and staff
Foley reassures parents schools will reopen in September 

Norma Foley, who on Tuesday will brief Cabinet on additional measures being taken by schools, said in a statement that the Government is committed to opening schools on time. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Education Minister has moved to reassure parents that schools will open as planned in September.

Norma Foley was reacting to reports that concerns over the Delta variant of Covid-19 could see schools remain closed this autumn.

Ms Foley, who on Tuesday will brief Cabinet on additional measures being taken by schools, said in a statement that the Government is committed to opening schools on time.

"I wish to reassure parents and guardians that plans are in place to support the full reopening of schools in time for the start of the new school year at the end of August 2021.

"It remains a priority of the Department of Education to support school communities to ensure that this can take place in line with their normal planned reopening times.

"As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the reopening will be carried out in close consultation with Public Health and the education partners.  

"The new variants of the disease do not change the infection prevention and control measures required in schools. Public Health advice is that compliance with these measures ensure that schools remain low risk for children and staff. 

Schools will continue to be supported in terms of the additional resources necessary to provide for these measures.

Government sources say that close attention is being paid to the Scottish experience with the variant. 

If that experience translates to here, it would see the peak of infections by the middle of August, with cases tailing off after.

Ms Foley said the last year has shown that schools are safe environments for children and staff.

Low-risk environments

"There is clear evidence from the operation of schools during the past year that schools are low-risk environments in terms of the transmission of Covid-19 and that the infection prevention and control measures in place are highly effective in reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19. 

"These measures protect pupils, their parents and school staff. At this point in the pandemic and given the ongoing rollout and impact of the vaccination programme it is imperative that children’s education is prioritised and schools are fully reopened at the start of the academic year and remain open throughout the 2021/22 school year."

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